Saturday, May 30, 2009

The largest Stockholm Marathon ever

Today's Stockholm Marathon was the largest ever with 18,736 entrants - 5,026 of them from Finland. There would be more runners of course, but they closed the registration in December to limit the numbers to a more manageable level.

The weather was sunny and warm (21 C) when 14,890 runners started at 2 PM. The Swedes kindly wait for the Finnish racers, who arrive on their overnight ferries.

The boats leave on Friday night, and everyone goes to sleep straight after an early dinner. The ferries arrive in Stockholm harbour on Saturday morning. The runners will return to their cabins right after the marathon on Saturday evening, and hardly anybody will be able to sleep as the marathon celebrations take over the ship on its way to Finland.

I've run this race three times, and I know that the two-loop course is quite tough for the legs because you have to conquer Västerbro bridge at 9 and 31 km. Everything looks so nice and easy when you watch it on TV at home, eating strawberries and ice cream!

Isabellah Anderson was the fastest female with a PR of 2:33:52. What's more, she performed a fantastic negative split (first half 1:17:26 and second half 1:16:26). She was a Kenyan when she won last year's Stockholm Marathon (2:34:12), but she became a Swedish citizen a week ago.

She is married to her experienced Swedish coach Lasse Andersson, who is double her age. Lasse told reporters after the race that Isabellah ran 23 seconds faster than he had planned.

Their daughter Beyonce was born in January. Isabellah has trained after that mainly by running in water and cycling. What a comeback!

Paul Kogo of Kenya was clearly the strongest runner today. His running style seems excellent to me. The lead group of three men hit the halfway mark at 1:07:22. Then Kogo took off and ran most of the second loop alone, except thousands of spectators and volunteers on streets.

Kogo won in 2:15:35, well over seven minutes ahead of the next runner. His final sprint was so strong that the girls with their traditional victory ceremonies couldn't catch him before the finish line.

What a great race! The Swedes really know how to organize a mass sport event like this. I'd certainly like to run it next year, when it's scheduled on June 5th. Better register as soon as possible...

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